How to handle anger in the workplace

Anger in the workplace – it is easy to spot and difficult to manage. It is one of the most common elephants at work.

What happens when anger enters the workplace and it is directed at you? Anger can be destructive to work relationships – whether it is your boss or co-worker.

When anger happens you are often ill prepared to deal with it. You might be caught off guard or anger is the result of a conversation that has gotten out of control. Angry discussions feel like personal attacks which can put you on the defensive very quickly.

Real Time Anger Management

It is difficult to deal with bad workplace behavior in the moment. Some of my anger in the workplace management suggestions may not be right for your culture or your boss has too much organizational power, such as, he or she is the CEO!

Each of the anger management suggestions can help you to discuss anger proactively and respectively, if done correctly.

Agree with the Person

The anger someone has may not be directed at you personally, it may be driven by a situation that has caused them embarrassment or pain. In this case, the person thinks you can help elevate or correct what is wrong.  Often, the angry employee is standing up with arms flailing as he or she gets more and more upset.

Action: Calmly tell them they have a right to their opinion (you are only acknowledging their feelings). You are here to help them and to do that everyone needs to sit down and discuss the problem and get the facts.

As soon as the employee realizes that no one is telling them they are wrong or that whatever happened is not personal, you should see an immediate change in their temperament.

Confront the Angry Person

If you walk into a situation or meeting and become the target of an angry rant by a boss or employee you may have to take it because getting control of the situation is next to impossible. The key is to stay calm and cool and let them look like the idiot. Typically, everyone in the room knows this person’s behavior is inappropriate and no one has the guts to tell them.

Action: When the rant is done, in front of everyone tell the person that their behavior is unacceptable and in the future you will be happy to discuss issues with them in a non-confrontational way. Then leave the room.

This tactic is tricky because it can mean career suicide if done at the wrong time or with the wrong person. It is important to know that the organization or your boss will support what you say. How you say it to the person will also decide your success with confronting angry behavior.

I have confronted a Director in front of his staff successfully in my career and was supported by my boss because everyone knew the Director had an anger issue. After I confronted him, I made sure my boss knew what had happened immediately.

Call for a Time-Out

When discussions become overheated, calling a time out may be the answer especially if both parties are becoming angry. A time out does not mean that the issue will be ignored, simply that some breathing space may help both parties to re-examine what is important and how to communicate their thoughts differently.

Action: Suggest both parties take a time out. Schedule a date and time to reconvene in a neutral and open place. Take time to put your thoughts down on paper – that often brings clarity around the issues and avoids personal attacks.

Can’t Deal with Anger?

If you are unable to use one of these tactics when confronted with anger in the workplace, you may want to think seriously if the organization is right for you. Discuss the situation with someone who is not involved such as Human Resources, your boss or the CEO.

No one should work in a bullying or hostile work environment. If no one takes action, and the management and organizational culture continues to be stressful and unproductive, it is time to plan your departure.

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  4. Anger if not properly managed can lead you into anything, thak you it is a pointed and its very helpful blog to folks. Sometimes it depends on the way we relate and what goes in the relationship.

    Relationships are often disturbed by passive aggressive behavior, you may have gone wrong some day with your partner and you thought you resolved the issue yet the one of you actually did not let it go, she/he continues to act weirdly. . In an intimate relationship, this often turns into emotional abuse. Without counseling, a pattern develops and the person may sabotage intimate relationships, friendships and work relationships.

    • In my workplace — which is mainly staffed by women — ANY expression of anger is strictly forbidden, even trivial expressions of transitory irritation. Instead what people do is conceal their anger and resentment until such time as they can satisfy it with underhanded and vindictive retaliations, usually far more damaging than the initial remark. Fuck that. If a person’s anger is reasonable, which it often is, I would rather that he or she express it openly and honestly.